LABOUR politicians in Sheffield are launching a campaign for a ‘fair deal’ on Government funding backed by both the city’s Anglican and Catholic bishops.
Sheffield Council is having to reduce its £480 million budget by £50 million in 2013/14 - after making a £50 million cut in the current financial year and an £84 million budget cut in 2011/12.
But ruling Labour councillors, supported by Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield, are unhappy that while they are having to make large cuts, Richmond Upon Thames only had to make a £1 million budget cut in 2012/13.
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Figures highlighted by ruling Labour councillors, supported by MP Mr Blomfield, include:
• Frontline police officers in South Yorkshire reducing by 182 between 2010 and 2015 - seven per cent of the force - while Surrey Police are recruiting 276 more officers, an increase of 18 per cent.
• South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue has lost £4m, or seven per cent, from its budget between 2011 and 2013, meaning closure of fire stations and loss of jobs, while Hampshire had a budget increase of three per cent, or £1.79m.
• Between July 2011 and June 2012 Sheffield’s average unemployment rate was 10.1 %, whereas in Great Britain it was 8.1% and in Surrey it was just 4.4%.
• The Government is considering changing the way the NHS is funded. If their plans to move to a purely age based formula were adopted Sheffield NHS would lose almost £73m per annum, or over 8% of its budget, while Surrey would get a staggering increase of £400m.
• In 2011/12 there has been a net reduction of £8.5m in funding to 159 charities in Sheffield but Oxfordshire Council could actually afford to increase its funding for charities by £327k in the same year.
• In 2011/12 Sheffield City Council had £5,925 to spend on education and support services per pupil, but in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea they could afford to spend £8,920 per pupil - that is £2,995 more per child.
The Labour politicians, supported by Rt Rev Dr Steven Croft, Anglican Bishop of Sheffield, and Hallam RC Bishop Rt Rev John Rawsthorne, and trade unionists, are launching an online petition.
But Sheffield Hallam MP and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has hit back.
His spokesman said that Sheffield’s budget is three and a half times bigger than Richmond’s and that despite the cuts, Sheffield residents will still have £160 per head more spent on them than in Richmond.
Mr Clegg’s office said South Yorkshire Police received £60 extra per head in funding than Surrey, while Hampshire Fire Service has greater budget cuts in 2013/14 than South Yorkshire, and South Yorkshire Fire Service has more to spend per household than Hampshire, £99.63 per year compared with £96.17.
The spokesman added that Labour could have given Sheffield’s voluntary sector more protection from cuts, while Sheffield schools are receiving £11.4m in extra funding in 2012/13 compared with £2.9m in Kensington and Chelsea for pupils from deprived backgrounds.
Mr Clegg’s office added that the coalition is delivering investment in Sheffield including the £2 billion Streets Ahead highways resurfacing scheme, £500m Midland Mainline rail electrification and £300m scheme to open the fourth lane of the M1 to provide extra capacity.
* See our special report in The Star on Friday, January 25, 2013